Organisms that protect their germ-cell lineages from damage often do so at considerable cost: limited metabolic resources become partitioned away from maintenance of the soma, leaving the ageing somatic tissues to navigate survival amid an environment containing damaged and poorly functioning proteins. Historically, experimental paradigms that limit reproductive investment result in lifespan extension. We proposed that germline-deficient animals might exhibit heightened protection from proteotoxic stressors in somatic tissues. We find that the forced re-investment of resources from the germ line to the soma in Caenorhabditis elegans results in elevated somatic proteasome activity, clearance of damaged proteins and increased longevity. This activity is associated with increased expression of rpn-6, a subunit of the 19S proteasome, by the FOXO transcription factor DAF-16. Ectopic expression of rpn-6 is sufficient to confer proteotoxic stress resistance and extend lifespan, indicating that rpn-6 is a candidate to correct deficiencies in age-related protein homeostasis disorders.
Embryonic stem cells are able to replicate continuously in the absence of senescence and, therefore, are immortal in culture1,2. While genome stability is central for survival of stem cells; proteome stability may play an equally important role in stem cell identity and function. Additionally, with the asymmetric divisions invoked by stem cells, the passage of damaged proteins to daughter cells could potentially destroy the resulting lineage of cells. We hypothesized that stem cells have an increased proteostasis ability compared to their differentiated counterparts and asked whether proteasome activity differed among human embryonic stem cells (hESCs). Notably, hESC populations exhibit a high proteasome activity that is correlated with increased levels of the 19S proteasome subunit PSMD11/RPN-63–5 and a corresponding increased assembly of the 26S/30S proteasome. Ectopic expression of PSMD11 is sufficient to increase proteasome assembly and activity. Proteasome inhibition affects pluripotency of hESCs inducing differentiation towards specific cell lineages. FOXO4, an insulin/IGF-1 responsive transcription factor associated with long lifespan in invertebrates6,7, regulates proteasome activity by modulating the expression of PSMD11 in hESCs. Our results establish a novel regulation of proteostasis in hESCs that links longevity and stress resistance in invertebrates with hESC function and identity.
Glycogen synthesis is normally absent in neurons. However, inclusion bodies resembling abnormal glycogen accumulate in several neurological diseases, particularly in progressive myoclonus epilepsy or Lafora disease. We show here that mouse neurons have the enzymatic machinery for synthesizing glycogen, but that it is suppressed by retention of muscle glycogen synthase (MGS) in the phosphorylated, inactive state. This suppression was further ensured by a complex of laforin and malin, which are the two proteins whose mutations cause Lafora disease. The laforin-malin complex caused proteasome-dependent degradation both of the adaptor protein targeting to glycogen, PTG, which brings protein phosphatase 1 to MGS for activation, and of MGS itself. Enforced expression of PTG led to glycogen deposition in neurons and caused apoptosis. Therefore, the malin-laforin complex ensures a blockade of neuronal glycogen synthesis even under intense glycogenic conditions. Here we explain the formation of polyglucosan inclusions in Lafora disease by demonstrating a crucial role for laforin and malin in glycogen synthesis.
Damaged and misfolded proteins accumulate during the aging process, impairing cell function and tissue homeostasis. These perturbations to protein homeostasis (proteostasis) are hallmarks of age-related neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or Huntington’s disease. Damaged proteins are degraded by cellular clearance mechanisms such as the proteasome, a key component of the proteostasis network. Proteasome activity declines during aging, and proteasomal dysfunction is associated with late-onset disorders. Modulation of proteasome activity extends lifespan and protects organisms from symptoms associated with proteostasis disorders. Here we review the links between proteasome activity, aging and neurodegeneration. Additionally, strategies to modulate proteasome activity and delay the onset of diseases associated to proteasomal dysfunction are discussed herein.
Lafora progressive myoclonus epilepsy (LD) is a fatal autosomal recessive neurodegenerative disorder characterized by the presence of glycogen-like intracellular inclusions called Lafora bodies. LD is caused by mutations in two genes, EPM2A and EPM2B, encoding respectively laforin, a dual-specificity protein phosphatase, and malin, an E3 ubiquitin ligase. Previously, we and others have suggested that the interactions between laforin and PTG (a regulatory subunit of type 1 protein phosphatase) and between laforin and malin are critical in the pathogenesis of LD. Here, we show that the laforin-malin complex downregulates PTG-induced glycogen synthesis in FTO2B hepatoma cells through a mechanism involving ubiquitination and degradation of PTG. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the interaction between laforin and malin is a regulated process that is modulated by the AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK). These findings provide further insights into the critical role of the laforin-malin complex in the control of glycogen metabolism and unravel a novel link between the energy sensor AMPK and glycogen metabolism. These data advance our understanding of the functional role of laforin and malin, which hopefully will facilitate the development of appropriate LD therapies.
Human embryonic stem cells can replicate indefinitely while maintaining their undifferentiated state and, therefore, are immortal in culture. This capacity may demand avoidance of any imbalance in protein homeostasis (proteostasis) that would otherwise compromise stem cell identity. Here we show that human pluripotent stem cells exhibit enhanced assembly of the TRiC/CCT complex, a chaperonin that facilitates the folding of 10% of the proteome. We find that ectopic expression of a single subunit (CCT8) is sufficient to increase TRiC/CCT assembly. Moreover, increased TRiC/CCT complex is required to avoid aggregation of mutant Huntingtin protein. We further show that increased expression of CCT8 in somatic tissues extends Caenorhabditis elegans lifespan in a TRiC/CCT-dependent manner. Ectopic expression of CCT8 also ameliorates the age-associated demise of proteostasis and corrects proteostatic deficiencies in worm models of Huntington's disease. Our results suggest proteostasis is a common principle that links organismal longevity with hESC immortality.
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